Today I had the privilege of presenting at a professional development day for teachers and school chaplains. The day was run by Crusaders. I presented a 15 minute session where I shared ideas about playing games during lunchtime Christian groups.

I shared 7 of my favourite games as well as some tips and resources for running games at a lunchtime group (Although these games can be played with many different types of groups). Here are some of the things I shared.

Different genres of games

I shared three genres of games that can be played at lunchtime groups.

  • Up front games – games where a few volunteers play while others watch.
  • Whole group participation led from front – a leader interacts with the group
  • Whole group explained form front – A leader explains the game then everyone plays

Within each genre, I shared a number of games that can be played.

Up Front Games

Guess what’s in the can – students guess what type of food is in a tin can with the label pulled off. A great game to play at the start of a session over a number of weeks. The can can have one of 1000 things in it which leads to endless guessing. If you were in attendance today, the can had split pea and ham soup inside.

Taste the difference - For this game you will need Vanilla Coke, Diet Coke and Regular Coke, as well as a blindfold. You will then need one or more kids to come up and discern between the different types of Coke. Firstly blindfold them, and then ask them to taste on of the types of Coke, and tell you what it is. Repeat this for the other types of Coke. The point of this is to demonstrate that by adding or taking away from the Bible, we change what it is really about.

To really emphasise this point, add something crazy (like fish sauce) to some Coke and get them to taste it. That will really make them aware of the difference!

Whole group participation led from front

Dragons egg – A quick game where the group must mimic what the leader does. If they do the wrong action they sit down. There are three actions: Dragons egg (arms make an egg shape), Tiger (hands up like tiger claws), Moose (hands on head like moose antlers).

Cheese or font – A variation on true or false where students must discern whether a given name is a cheese or a font. Use the resource cheeseorfont.com.

Make it or break it – A video resource where students make an O or an X with their hands to show whether someone will make it or break it. A great game to play at the start of your group to get people to come along. Videos can be downloaded for free from stuffyoucanuse.org.

Whole group explained form front

Scissors, paper, rock off – It’ll get crazy.

It’s based around the simple game of scissors, paper, rock. Two people line up against each other, chant scissors, paper, rock, and then have to make a hand action that represents these actions. Flat hand is paper, clenched fist is rock, two fingers out is scissors. Scissors beats (cuts) paper, paper beats (wraps up) rock and rock beats (crushes) scissors.

To start the game, everybody in your group pairs up and plays a game of scissors, paper, rock. The loser of the game now becomes the cheer squad for the winner.

Now all of the winners pair up and play a game while the cheer squads are cheering. The winner then inherits the losers cheer squad. Very quickly, the cheer squads will get very large and eventually there will only be two people left, with two very large cheer squads. This last game can be a best of three.

You can imagine how loud this game gets and how fun it can be for everyone involved! Especially for the last two people who have the whole room cheering out their names!

1 2 3 4 – A game where pairs of students verse each other in a battle of reflexes.

A great one to fill little gaps in a program.

Once everyone is with a partner they then face each other. The leader at the front then slowly calls out “1 2 3 4″.

1, everyone raises their right hand with the pointer finger sticking up.

2, everyone places their left hand out with their palms facing towards the sky.

3, everyone places their right pointer finger on the left palm of their partner.

4, everyone closes their left hand while simultaneously pulling away their right pointer finger.

The aim is to catch your partners finger while ensuring they don’t catch yours.

Repeat as needed.

Top Tips

  • Try to link games to the Bible topic as often as possible. If you only have 30 minutes, a 10 minute game which reinforces the main point will be incredibly helpful.
  • Limit your group to 3 questions, then they wont ask frivolous questions.
  • Stop and reexplain if necessary.
  • Have fun!

Resources

Thanks to all who came to my sessions today. I had a great time :)

Group Games v2.0

October 13, 2013 — 2 Comments

It’s been many months in the making and Group Games v2.0 is finally here!

Here are the updates (there are a few):

  • New Favourites view! Save all of your favourite games by tapping the star in the top right hand corner.
  • iPad compatibility! App is now universal and uses a two-column view on iPad (Both portrait and landscape).
  • Games have been completely edited.
  • Redesign to fit in with iOS7.
  • How-To dialogue box only shows when first opening App (always available in ‘More’ tab).
  • New ‘More’ view with How-To, About and Disclaimer.
  • New “Rate this App” pop-up (can be ignored).
  • Re-Drawn App icon to be pixel perfect.
  • New launch screen images.
  • Fixed bug regarding pressing the back button after sending an email from ‘Find Someone Who…’ or ‘Scategories’.
  • Fixed bug where scrolling could cause you to accidentally tap on a game.
  • More games will be coming in future updates!

If you’re thinking now would be a good time to write about Group Games, I’d love to give you some codes to give away. Contact me and we can work something out. You can also download screenshots to use in your post here.

I hope you all really enjoy this App update!

Group Games Now and Next

Group Games Logo

I’ve just submitted Group Games version 1.3 to the App Store and hopefully it’ll be up around this time next week. I thought in the meantime this would be a good opportunity to share some facts and figures about the App.

  • Group Games (as of version 1.3) will have 128 games in 13 categories.
  • There are over 22 000 words in the App. Long enough for a decent book!
  • Nearly 20 000 lines of code.
  • Group Games has recently sold it’s 2 000th copy! It’s not many in the grand scheme of the millions of Apps that are downloaded from the App Store, but I’m very happy with the reception of Group Games.
  • Group Games has been purchased in 14 different countries including Malaysia, Sweden, Mexico, Malta and Germany.
  • The majority of sales come from the US, followed by Australia, Canada and the UK.
  • Nearly a year after release, the App is still selling copies on a daily basis.

I’ve been really happy with how the App has gone and it’s meant that I’ve been able to cover the costs of running all my internet related hobbies and then some. I’m really thankful for all of the support that I’ve received from both friends and family and for all those other people who recommend Group Games to their friends. I’m hoping that over time I can continue to improve this resource.

To that end…

Continue Reading…

I’ve just completed my second iOS App, IceBreaker Questions.

Have you ever led a small group and needed a quick question to find out a little something about others?

Have you ever interviewed someone and wanted a non-standard question to get to know a bit more about who they really are?

Have you ever been in an awkward conversation and needed something to kickstart things?

Then this App is for you!

IceBreaker Questions App Logo on iPhone

IceBreaker Questions is the simplest App available for finding get to know you questions. You just choose the age range, and BAM! You have a question. Want another one? Tap the question mark in the lower left hand corner.

Check out this video to see it in action.

The App is on the App Store now for $0.99. Or if you want to find out more about this wonderful App, then visit icebreakerquestionsapp.net.

If you’re someone who would like to write about IceBreaker Questions on your site and do a giveaway, please contact me and we can talk.

Hope you all enjoy the App!

Youth Group Games Header

There are so many situations at the start of the year that call for a get to know you game. Commonly called an “IceBreaker”. No matter what your groups situation is, it’s likely that the start of the year brings new people into your group, and it’s times like these that require an IceBreaker game.

So, in addition to the 9 get to know you games already on this site, I thought I’d add another ten IceBreaker games. These ten games were all originally published on IceBreakers.ME. A site with a database of IceBreaker games and questions for all ages.

  • Spiders Web
  • Assassins
  • King Characticus
  • Greedy Smarties
  • Honey, Be A Champ And Give Me A Smile
  • Shoe Pile
  • Snowball Fight
  • Post-It Past
  • MMOSPR (Massively Multiplayer Offline Scissors Paper Rock)
  • Play-Dough Personalities

Keep reading below to find out how to play these 10 great IceBreaker games.

Continue Reading…

How to run a youth group game

After choosing, planning and explaining your youth group game. Now comes the fun bit. The bit where you actually get to play the game with your group.

Now you have already of course planned out how you will explain your game so this post is not going to cover that. No, this post is going to give you 3 top tips to use when you are actually running the game. Those three tips are:

  • Use Effective Management Strategies
  • Avoid the ‘C’ word
  • Stop. Re-explain

Use Effective Management Strategies

When you’re running a youth group game, you need to ensure that you have effective management strategies in place so that you can control your youth group. Without control you will have chaos, and in the end chaos is no fun. As much as kids will initially think that running around doing whatever they want is fun, they will eventually get bored.

So you need management strategies to control your group. I’m not going to give an extensive list of management strategies and explain them all (note to self: write a series on management strategies for youth groups). Instead I’m going to give you some guidelines.

  • Firstly, this is a youth group and not a classroom. You don’t need everyone to be silent all the time, but you do need to make sure that they are listening to everything that you say. If they’re not, they wont know how to play the game and will get bored.
  • Secondly, create some type of signal that will get everyone’s attention. This could be something that you do or it could be something that is common throughout your youth group. It could be something as simple as clapping a pattern and expecting everyone to follow you. Or you could get creative and make it so that when you call out a phrase, your group must respond in kind. e.g. You say: “Whoa, we’re halfway there” and your group responds: “Whoa, livin’ on a prayer”. Be creative, you get the picture.
  • Finally, make sure that you maintain respect of the kids in your group. If you have their respect they will listen to you. Hopefully this will be an attitude throughout your youth group where all kids respect all leaders. But I wanted to emphasise this point. The easiest way to manage a group is to ensure that they respect you.

Avoid the ‘C’ Word

When playing a game of any kind, everyone wants to push the rules for their advantage (especially those of us who can get a bit competitive). When this goes to far, people love to use the ‘C’ word and call others CHEATERS. It’s a good practice to try and get rid of this word from your youth groups vocabulary. And this comes straight from a loving attitude from the leaders.

However, you can help this attitude along. During the explanation for a game, and throughout the game itself, emphasise to the kids that you don’t want to hear anyone using the ‘C’ word. For a few reasons:

  • You don’t want anyone cheating in the first place. Everyone should be aiming to have fun, and most importantly, should be helping others to have fun.
  • It doesn’t help anyone when someone calls out a cheater. It just ruins the game. The better attitude to have is to ignore it. They are ruining the game for themselves and you will have much more fun if you don’t let them ruin it for you. However, if someone is constantly cheating and ruining the game. Encourage your kids to quietly tell a leader, rather than yelling it across a room.
  • It’s not very nice. Being a cheater isn’t loving anyone and calling someone a cheating isn’t loving them either.

Encourage your group not to speak of the ‘C’ word, remove it from your youth groups vocabulary.

Stop. Re-explain.

Stop

Although you may plan and plan and plan your game, and although you may think you’ve explained it perfectly, sometimes the game just doesn’t work the way you wanted it to. In this case, instead of letting the game flounder, STOP.

Stop the game.

Bring everyone back together and explain rules that you think need explanation. You may even add new rules or clarify existing ones. Do whatever you think needs to be done in order for the game to run smoothly.

If you don’t stop the game, everyone will get frustrated. Stopping the game is not admitting defeat. It’s changing tac, starting a new course and hoping that the new course will help you reach your goal. Whatever that may be.

I hope these 3 top tips have been helpful in thinking about how you’ll run your next youth group game. They have definitely served me well over the years!

Top 5 IceBreaker Games Of 2012

Check out the top games over at this site I run. You can view lots of IceBreaker Questions and games to get to know you.

Top 5 Video Countdowns Of 2012

These were the most popular videos over at FreeHDCountdowns.com, a site that I run.